Domain name appraisal scams generally have a few elements in common

Jul 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Domain Scam & Legal Issues

1) Almost without exception, the scammer asking you to get a domain appraisal will suggest that a domain appraisal be done “to protect both parties” and “make sure the price paid is fair”.

2) The scammer will mention that he only trusts certain domain name appraisal companies and it will be domain name appraisal companies you’ve never heard of (eg. not Sedo, Afternic, Estibot). Often, the scammer will show you a post from a forum where “supposed domain name experts” are discussing the best domain name appraisal companies — the company he’s suggesting you get an appraisal from will be one of the ones being praised by these “domain name experts”.

The Truth:

End users almost never ask to have a domain appraised. If an end user genuinely wants an appraisal, direct them to services such as Sedo and Afternic which will allow them to purchase a domain name appraisal – there’s no reason for you to pay for a domain name appraisal when it’s the buyer who’s interested in having one. Even if the buyer turns out not to be a scammer, let’s suppose he changes his mind and decides to pass on the domain — why should you be the one footing the domain appraisal bill?

A buyer willing to pay the appraisal fee would suggest that he’s fairly interested in the domain and if he’s willing to do that, by all means let him — Sedo and Afternic generally report higher prices in their appraisals than most domains would likely fetch in the reseller market, so it’s really not going to hurt you if the buyer decideds to purchase an appraisal himself.

Additional security measures to take when you think you might be dealing with a domain name appraisal scammer:

Search their name and email adress on Google. Domain name appraisal scam emails are often sent out in bulk, meaning hundreds, possibly thousands of other people and domainers would have received the same email as you. It generally doesn’t take long before the scammer’s name (likely not his real name) and the scam letter he’s been sending become indexed in Google, thanks to someone inquiring about the legitimacy of the email received on a forum. If you can’t find an indexed answer, consider asking the knowledgeable members on Namepros who’ll be able to tell you pretty quickly whether it sounds like a domain name appraisal scam or a legitimate end user inquiry.

Different scammers have different styles and some domain name appraisal scams aren’t as immediately obvious as others. As a general rule however, don’t ever pay for a domain name appraisal, regardless of the circumstances mentioned by the potential buyer. Domain name appraisal scammers will often follow their names with credentials such as PHD and MCSE — anyone can pretend to have any credential they want on the Internet and without verification, this means nothing. It shouldn’t have any influence on your decision either way — there are highly educated and intelligent people who are scammers just the same.

The domain name appraisal scam is by far the most common domain name scam and unfortunately claims many victims — most domainers having fallen or knowing someone who at one point fell for it — don’t become part of that statistic.


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